GOPers speak up, but some won't show up to Thursday speech
September 8th, 2011
12:13 PM ET
11 years ago

GOPers speak up, but some won't show up to Thursday speech

(CNN) – Actions speak louder than words, and at least five Republican members of Congress-two senators and three representatives –plan on sitting out the president's jobs speech before a Thursday joint session of Congress.

Call it an act of defiance, protest, or a simple "scheduling conflict"-some members just have other plans.

On Monday, Sept. 12th, CNN will broadcast the "Tea Party Republican Debate," live from Tampa, Florida at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun also sat out the president's State of the Union address in January, tweeting from his office on Capitol Hill. This time, the congressman told CNN's American Morning Thursday that he's planning to host a "town hall meeting over Twitter" so that constituents can "communicate with me and tell me what they think about the president's speech."

The three-term Republican congressman accused President Obama of believing in socialism during his last tweet-and-response during a joint session, but this time, he said, will be different.

"We weren't holding a town hall meeting on that particular occasion," Broun clarified. "We're inviting people to come on board, to give me comments, to give me suggestions, to tell me what they think we should be doing."

"I'm trying to listen to my constituents," Broun said as he expressed skepticism about the president's intentions.

"This president does not listen. This is just another campaign speech," he stated.

"What we need to be doing is trying to create an environment so that job creators in the private sector will start hiring people, Broun continued.

"Not these ideas that have been proposed by the president. We've already seen them in the stimulus bill. They failed before. They'll fail again."

Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh echoed Broun's sentiments when he told CNN's "Newsroom" later, "It really does seem like every time someone skins their knee the president wants to make a big speech. We're beyond big speeches."

"If this president were serious about coming together, he wouldn't throw together a big campaign speech again."

Arguing that "you can't lead by speeches," the freshman congressman stated that he won't just be boycotting the president.

"I'm actually going to fly home this afternoon and instead of attending his speech I'm going to sit with 40-50 small businessmen and women–the job creators in this country–and they're going to give me their recommendations and I'm going to take them back to the president."

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said he's "so tired of [Obama's] speeches" that he will read the text because "it's going to be hard" for the tea party leader to watch.

But House Speaker John Boehner wasn't in favor of actions by errant members of his party Thursday. "I have encouraged my colleagues to come tonight and to listen to the president," he addressed the floor.

"He is the president of the United States and I believe that all members ought to be here and do this. Doesn't mean they are going to. Remember, I am just the speaker, all right. I have 435 colleagues who have their own opinions and they are entitled to them. As an institution, the president is coming to our invitation. We ought to be respectful and we ought to welcome him."

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter just had bigger and better plans, but changed them to attend.

Though he originally stated, "I'm going to be watching from my family room in Metairie, Louisiana because I have a Saints game party there and I'm absolutely going to be there for the big game," spokesman Luke Bolar confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the vote schedule, effectively cancelling the senator's travel plans.

"Apparently my attending my own Saints game party at home in Louisiana is the latest casualty of Washington partisanship," Vitter wrote in an e-mail to staff. "This HAS gotten out of hand!"

When President Obama first proposed a joint session of Congress last week, the timing went up against a GOP presidential debate. He settled on the Thursday date countered by House Speaker John Boehner, going head-to-head with the NFL season opener featuring the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers instead.

Obama's speech at 7 p.m. ET is timed to occur shortly before the game begins.

Still, Texas Rep. Ron Paul won't leave the presidential campaign trail to attend.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has pressing family matters that will keep him away from the Capitol as well –though his absence is less than political.

Spokesman Alex Burgos told CNN, "Senator Rubio will be returning home early this afternoon to be with his mother, who has been hospitalized following a series of strokes."

And freshman Rep. Lou Barletta announced Thursday he will return to his home state of Pennsylvania to attend to matters related to "unprecedented flooding" in large parts of the Northeastern and Central portions of the state.

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Watch American Morning weekdays 6am to 9am ET. For the latest from American Morning click here.

soundoff (767 Responses)
  1. Moe Green

    Per Ethandy...

    If Gabrielle Giffords can be undeterred in slogging her way back to the Capitol Building for the privilege of being present for duty 8 months after getting her brain slammed by a right-wing extremist's hollow point, then these self-serving, reptilian-brained, losers can show up for an f-ing speech.

    September 8, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. ethandy

    President Obama will be reelected in 2012.

    September 8, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. hwy911

    Seriously? Intelligent Congressmen would at least wait to HEAR the speech before condemning it...

    September 8, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Linda

    They should all be fired! How dare they say they are going to watch a football game instead! Throw those bums out! Voters, I hope you are seeing who you voted in and how they act. If you didn't show up for your job or a meeting with your CEO, what would happen to you? These guys need to be shown the door. No pay, no insurance, no retirement.

    September 8, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Mary

    SZooks wins the award for most profound, pithy statement:

    "doesn't matter what Obama does, Republicans will be against it.
    Obama could cure cancer, Republicans would be against it."

    Love it!

    September 8, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. thomas

    In just the past week, the Texas Forest Service has responded to 181 fires, Gov. Rick Perry said.
    President Barack Obama called Perry to "express his concern for citizens of Texas impacted by the unprecedented fires."
    The president assured the governor "that requests for additional assistance, including as recovery begins, would be quickly assessed," according to a White House statement.

    Will all you TeaBag GOP nut jobs , find something bad to say about Our President regarding this news release ?

    I love criticism from the arrogant and the ignorant !

    September 8, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Bill/Indiana

    @tea party mike
    You are correct that the stimulus did not perform as claimed. All it did was stabilize the economy, it didn't repair all the damage done in the previous 8 years. Obama was mistaken with regard to how much the stimulus would help. But clearly the economy would be MUCH worse without it. There is no question that the problems are still significant, but thank God he and the Dems took the necessary steps to save us from a much worse fate. If only the GOP WANTED the economy to improve, but their 2012 election plans require that it not get better. They are doing an excellent job in holding us back!

    September 8, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Cedar Rapids


    U want 2 talk about disprespect well how about Obama schecduling the speech without consulting Congressional leaders as is required by him to do!'
    Actually he did talk to them and he isn't actually required to do so.

    'How about Obama scheduling his speech on the night of a GOP debate (scheduled months ago) in an attempt to play politics & upstage them?'
    And he moved the date to date they suggested and now they say they aren't going to go because they have a football party to get to.

    'As President, Obama has been the most unpresidential ever in our history. He has no class and does not respect the office he serves.'
    And yet Boehner became the first person to tell a president he could not have the date he asked for, seeing as we are talking class and respect for the office and all.

    September 8, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. EddyL

    Traitors, plan and simple. They should be removed from office immediately.

    September 8, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Larry

    I am not sure why the news media does not just come out and say to these Republicans, that hey are disrespecting the president of the US if they do not go to the joint congressional speech and it just proves that it has nothing to do with the position the president, has but the color of his skin. Haven't they realized that they are racist and want nothing to do with him even at the expense of the country. I am not saying all republicans are racist. But if you are racist. I will bet you that you are a Republican 🙂

    September 8, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. FIELD1stSGT

    Who does want to hear this liar speak.

    September 8, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. Paul

    Children will be children

    September 8, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. skarphace

    "Apparently my attending my own Saints game party at home in Louisiana is the latest casualty of Washington partisanship," Vitter wrote.

    Do you know how many games I missed for work this year? This guy is the typical Tea Party polititian. A disrespectful whiner. What a disgrace the Tea Party is. Vote them all out, I say.

    September 8, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. MIddle of the Road

    Since apparently Congress has stopped listening to the people, and paying more attention to their own's time they were sent a very simple message even they can understand......HEY CONGRESS – GET TO WORK OR LOOK FOR WORK!! It's that simple.

    September 8, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. Dave T

    I'm sure while he is not attending the speech, that Joe Walsh will be busy figuring our how to pay the $100,000 in back child support that he owes

    September 8, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |

    How ironic that the congressman accuses the President of not listening and he decides not to attend. They are elected to do a job and decide they have other things to do. I do believe the people of the U.S. do not elect officials so they can go out and campain!

    September 8, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. God

    To Republicans

    This post is just to let these idiot Republicans know that I am watching and that have angered me. I have set events in motions (such as fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes ++++ in Republican heartland) that will make you humble and respectful to all mankind regardless of colour, status, sexual orientation. I have initiated these events to let you know that global warming and climate change are real and that you are a major cause.

    As a result of your arrogance, hateful thoughts, and irreparable harm you have committed against my people you will have to endure my will which includes most of your family and friends letting you know that they are gay or lesbians and with my consent can marry other gay and lesbians individuals, you cannot obstruct stem cell research as it at my vision for mankind and you must follow it, you must allow my people to benefit from the same government subsidized health insurance you currently enjoy by working for the Federal or State or Local governments, if you don’t you will no longer be allowed to benefit from government subsidized health insurance and will not be able to afford to purchase your own insurance and would eventually die in the street, you must acknowledge that rich people and corporations will have to pay their fare share, you cannot have premarital sex and you will answer to me if you have, you can only have sex to someone you are married too in order to make babies and not for pleasure, you can no longer deny evolution because it is my creation and if you do you will suffer reverse evolution and degenerate into a monkey.

    So my Republican children, heed these words of wisdom from me and correct your ways for I will judge you harshly at the gates of heaven if you don’t.

    Yours truly

    September 8, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |


    September 8, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. TEA PARTY Mike

    Let me get this straight.
    About 3 years ago you told me to go out and borrow 800 billion dollars. And then you told me that if I let you spend it right away ,with no questions asked or time to study your plan, you would jump start the economy and repair our crumbling infrastructure. Create millions of jobs including shovel ready jobs, green jobs and government jobs. And all this would keep unemployment from going beyond 8%.
    Now you tell me the economy is not doing so hot, our infrastructure is still crumbling, those shovel ready jobs were not as shovel ready as you thought, all those green jobs just did not work out like you thought, and unemployment went over 10% and is expected to stay over 8% for a couple more years.
    But now you tell me you have a new plan that is mostly the same stuff as in the old plan. And you are telling me even before you reveal all the details of your plan to me that I have to let you implement it right away no questions asked and no objections. And you say this plan will create all those jobs the first plan did not. You tell me even before I know what all the details of your plan are, that if I don't let you implement your plan that my only motive for not letting you will be because I want you to fail. And oh yeah, you want me to go out and borrow another 400 billion to pay for it. You say trust me, it will work.

    September 8, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Tony in Maine

    These REpublicans are a disgrace and should be punished by their leadership, perhaps a loss of committee assignments, an office in the basement next to the boiler room or (gasp) loss of reserved parking. Of course nothing will happen. In fact the media bobbleheads will make them the story.

    Heavy sigh.

    September 8, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    With regards to Vitter: well, at least this time he'll be surrounded by friends instead of hookers, and he hopefully won't be wearing a diaper.

    September 8, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. Tired of Republicans

    If I have an unpresidented "scheduling conflict" at my job when my boss is giving an important department speech, I'm sure I would be on the unemployment line.

    If the members of Congress, who decided that they have a "scheduling conflict", when their boss is comes to their work site to give an important speech. There is no doubt in my mind, that they too need to be on the unemployement line.

    September 8, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. JoelE

    It is the office of President of the United States that demands respect, regardless of one's personal opinion of the person holding that office at a particular point in time. I am a Republican and I find it embarrassing that these Republican congressmen are not being more gracious and respectful of the office.

    September 8, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Protesting the gop'ers

    Protesting the president's speech? The one he has not yet delivered? Oh, sure. THAT perfectly highlights gop 'per attitude: we will say NO to everything Obama says. We will pout, wet our diapers, throw tantrums and scream .... " until nobody, not anybody, zero people, no americans will ever listen to us, – ever again. That's not politics or democracy, that's kindergarten (sadly with full pay and full benefits). Bring it on then, the self destruction of the GOP (no don't blame the teaparty, they are not elected officials).

    September 8, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. erich2112x

    I'm so tired of having my mind messed with by all that GOP trickery, deceit, and sleight of hand.

    September 8, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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